Daily Archives: March 28, 2011

A.S. Haley: The Soft Tyranny of Low Expectations Illustrated at the TEC HOB Meeting

Given the collegial atmosphere and expectations, therefore, it comes as a bit of a shock to learn that the leadership of ECUSA has arranged a slightly different agenda for the 2011 spring meeting of the House of Bishops. That agenda includes an indoctrination of the attendees into what President Ronald Reagan once memorably called “the soft tyranny of low expectations” (and which George W. Bush changed into “the soft bigotry of low expectations”). Again, we have this eyewitness account (I have added the bold emphasis):

After a challenging address by the PB to “show up” in the various challenging venues of today’s world, we had a report from a committee on changes in governance of The Episcopal Church, concerns about the new Title IV Canon revisions (clergy discipline), a report from the committee on same gender blessings, and from a group looking at devising a process for the “reconciliation or dissolution of a pastoral relationship between a bishop and a diocese!”

Wow! For the new bishops: welcome to your new role!

“Welcome to your new role,” indeed. Bishop Epting (now retired, but attending in lieu of Bishop Scarfe of Iowa, who is on a sabbatical) may not realize how close he has come to hitting the nail on the head. While the number of new bishops in the House of Bishops not politically significant, and is at best a dozen or so among a total of about 130, it is essential that the new bishops be, in the words of Oscar Hammerstein, “carefully taught”.

And what better subject for the “teachers” than the newly created metropolitan authority of the Presiding Bishop herself?…

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

(AP) Pastor's book on Hell sparks eternal debate

When Chad Holtz lost his old belief in hell, he also lost his job.

The pastor of a rural United Methodist church in North Carolina wrote a note on his Facebook page supporting a new book by Rob Bell, a prominent young evangelical pastor and critic of the traditional view of hell as a place of eternal torment for billions of damned souls.

Two days later, Holtz was told complaints from church members prompted his dismissal from Marrow’s Chapel in Henderson.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Eschatology, Evangelicals, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CNS) Stewardship called 'practical spirituality' that follows Jesus' example

If you think stewardship is just a fancy way a parish asks for more in the collection basket, Father Daniel Mahan invites you to think again.

“Stewardship is much more important than money, much more valuable than silver or gold,” the priest from Indiana said. “Holiness is our goal. Stewardship is a practical spirituality that gets us there.”

Stewardship calls people to imitate Jesus in his generous self-giving, he added, “and when we do that, we become more Christ-like. We grow in holiness.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Stewardship, Theology

Coastal Carolina Presbytery Declines to Change Sexual Standard for Clergy

Derrick Montgomery, an openly gay pastor at Fayetteville’s United Ministries in Christ, says the issue was long buried in churches, only to become apparent in the past decade.

“In the church I grew up in, there were gay individuals,” he said. “They just kept quiet, and nobody made an issue of it.

“But over the past several years, churches are being forced to deal with the issue. It’s a difficult issue, and we certainly aren’t insensitive to that. But we find it to be in keeping with the spirit of God to accept all those who wish to worship, not limit ourselves to certain categories.”

Perhaps the most public schism came in the U.S. Episcopal Church, where the ordination of an openly gay bishop in 2003 led to hundreds of churches breaking away from the denomination. The church ordained a second openly gay bishop last year.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Bishop Pierre Whalon's Statement on Libya

The issue of a “just war” is rather simple when a nation is attacked and has to defend itself. Since the American intervention in Iraq, the question of preventive strikes has been widely discussed. The fact that Gadhafi has to use mercenaries to try to repress the uprising of his own people could be another case to consider: does the international community have the right to intervene in such a situation?

Yes, and for several reasons: the rebels have requested it; the Arab League and therefore the neighboring countries have asked for it, and our own awareness of the suffering of the Libyan people, and what awaits the insurgents if Gadhafi wins his war against his own people, requires it.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Libya, TEC Bishops, Theology

(Daily Monitor) University in Uganda to be built in honour of martyrs

The Mt. Elgon sub-region district local governments in partnership with Diocesan bishops of eastern Uganda have sealed discussions intended to start an African Anglican University (AAU)a living memorial to African martyrdom.

The proposed university will be established at the Bishop Usher Wilson Theological College, Buwalasi in Sironko.

It is to be a living memory of particularly Bishop Jonan Luwum and Dr. Martin Luther King Junior and a South African martyr, Manche Masemola.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(ACNS) Anglican leaders condemn burning of the Qur’an; Prayer offered

Anglican leaders have condemned the act of burning of the Qur’an on March 20 in Florida, United States. Bishop Alexander Malik of the Diocese of Lahore, Pakistan, said that “Such acts were in flagrant contradiction to the teaching of Christianity”¦ They were the manifestations of sick minds busy in spreading hatred, bigotry and unease in society.”

In Peshawar, Pakistan, Bishop Humphrey Peters noted that this was a “shameful act” performed “only to gain cheap popularity”. Bishop Peters was speaking at a press conference alongside members of a Peshawar based inter faith group ”˜Faith Friends’ at which colleagues from the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu communities also expressed their anger at the action.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Asia, England / UK, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Pakistan

The Bishop of Portsmouth blesses revamped St Mary’s church

The newly refurbished Priory Church of St Mary has been blessed by the Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth.

In a service yesterday the Rt Rev Christopher Foster officially rededicated the Hayling Island Church, which reopened just before Christmas last year having undergone a six-month, £400,000 refit.

The medieval building now has underfloor heating, state-of-the-art lighting, wooden chairs to replace the old pews and restored stonework inside.I

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

(Daily Mail) C of E row as cathedral opens doors to tarot card readers and crystal healers

The Church of England was braced for a fresh row today after a cathedral announced plans to host a ‘new age’ festival.

The event – featuring tarot card readers, crystal healers, dream interpretation, and a fire-breathing vicar – is to be held in Manchester Cathedral in May.

But the move is certain to anger traditionalists, who feel the Church has already strayed too far from tradition.

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Update: There is more here also.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry

(USA Today) Tom Krattenmaker: Even religious freedom has limits

In an 1878 decision on the Mormons and polygamy, the Supreme Court held”” much like Oregon’s Legislature today ”” that religious freedom could not justify (otherwise) criminal activity. If it could, the court reasoned, what would stop a church from practicing human sacrifice?

Therein lies important practical wisdom that’s worth remembering the next time you hear people shouting indignantly about their rights with little regard for the consequences faced by their fellow citizens of other persuasions ”” whether it’s a pharmacy employee’s “right” to refuse selling legal contraceptives or an ardent secularist’s “right” to be free of any exposure to religious expression in public (as in the case of those who would forbid mention of the G-word in the Pledge of Allegiance).

The freedom to believe as one chooses is crucial to the American way, and belief has little meaning if it cannot be acted upon. Even so, as the Followers of Christ are learning the hard way, the right to practice religion must have its limits. Especially when the consequences are life or death for those with no choice in the matter.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government

Ivor Roberts (The Tablet)–Libya: two cheers for intervention

Historically, the east of Libya centred on Benghazi is quite distinct from the rest of the country and has suffered disproportionately under Col Gaddafi. It is not impossible that the country will be effectively divided while a civil war ensues. We have no mandate from the UN to intervene on the ground to help the anti-Gaddafi forces take Tripoli. We could, of course, arm them, which would allow them to defend the territory gained but we are then drifting further away from humanitarian intervention and closer to direct military involvement. More importantly, it might make it more difficult in future to secure Security Council backing for future humanitarian interventions.

From a parochial British point of view, we will want to gauge whether removing Col Gaddafi, as opposed to stopping his attacks on his own people, matters sufficiently to us as to be prepared to see our soldiers actively engaged on the ground. In reaching a decision are we motivated by a desire to protect our own security and energy supplies or are we inspired by the obvious wish of significant elements of the Libyan people to be free of the Gaddafi incubus? Almost certainly the latter.

But after the bitter experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan, public opinion will want to know what the exit strategy is. If we are prepared to intervene on the ground to save Benghazi from being overrun by Col Gaddafi, how long would we be prepared to remain?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Europe, Foreign Relations, Libya, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Economist Leader–The challenge of Libya: Where will it end?

Libya is not Iraq. The West has learned through bitter experience to avoid the grievous mistakes it made from the outset of that venture. For one thing, the current mission is indisputably legal. For another, it has, at least for now, the backing of Libya’s own people and””even allowing for some wobbles from Turkey and the Arab League””of most Arab and Muslim countries. Libya’s population is a quarter the size of Iraq’s, and the country should be easier to control: almost all its people, a more homogeneous lot albeit with sharp tribal loyalties, live along the Mediterranean coastal strip. If Colonel Qaddafi’s state crumbles, the West should not seek to disband his army or the upper echelons of his administration, as it foolishly did in Iraq. The opposition’s interim national council contains secular liberals, Islamists, Muslim Brothers, tribal figures and recent defectors from the camp of Colonel Qaddafi. The West should recognise the council as a transitional government, provided that it promises to hold multiparty elections. Above all, there must be no military occupation by outsiders. It is tempting to put time-limits on such a venture, but that would be futile.

Success in Libya is not guaranteed””how could it be? It is a violent country that may well succumb to more violence, and will not become a democracy any time soon. But its people deserve to be spared the dictator’s gun and be given a chance of a better future.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Europe, Foreign Relations, Libya

Ted Lewis–Anglican Conciliarism: A Bright Hope Extinguished

The end of conciliarism, which accords with the practice of the early church, is to be regarded as tragic. The Anglican tragedy, like its medieval counterpart, may be seen as stemming from the reluctance of the central authority to relinquish or even dilute its control. This reluctance is not necessarily a matter of perversity, however. To be sure, the reluctance of Anglican Communion Office, instanced by their keeping the ACC in line in Jamaica, has seemed motivated by a desire to avoid offending TEC, which provides much of their funding. But from their perspective TEC’s financial support may appear essential for the proper functioning of the Communion. They have seemed concerned also to avoid alienating the liberal wing of the Church of England. But this may be not just out of ideological predisposition. It may also reflect a belief that the CofE could not afford the resulting exacerbation of its divisions.

To Archbishop Rowan himself, with his brilliant mind, deep learning, and winning personality, such considerations may have less application. The explanation in his case may lie more in his espousal of a theology militating against closure on any issue, and thus supportive of the inclinations of the Anglican Communion Office, as of the interests of TEC, by default. Charles Raven, in his 2010 book Shadow Gospel: the Theology of Rowan Williams and the Anglican Communion Crisis, made an impressive case to this effect. As for Rowan’s adherence to such a theology despite all his sophistication, being essentially an academic, without secular or even significant parish experience, perhaps limits his awareness of the outside world.

If, then, there is to be a revival of Anglican conciliarism, it will have to come not from the Instruments in their now compromised state but instead out of churches of the Global South, together with their Western allies. These churches have laid a basis for it already in Gafcon, their conference in Jerusalem in June 2008. There the Spirit was clearly at work, producing conciliarly the extraordinary Jerusalem Declaration. So far, despite the South-to-South Encounter in Singapore in April 2010 and the CAPA meeting in Uganda last August, the Global South leaders have not followed up on it. But by absenting themselves from the Dublin Primates’ Meeting and thereby sealing its irrelevance, they have taken on a responsibility to do so. For the sake of conciliarism and of Anglicanism itself, they need now, in American terms, to step up to the plate.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Instruments of Unity, Lambeth 2008, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Windsor Report / Process

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Eternal God, who through thy Son our Lord hast promised a blessing upon those who hear thy Word and faithfully keep it: Open our ears, we humbly beseech thee, to hear what thou sayest, and enlighten our minds, that what we hear we may understand, and understanding may carry into good effect by thy bounteous prompting; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Euchologium Anglicanum

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness. So also David pronounces a blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not reckon his sin.” Is this blessing pronounced only upon the circumcised, or also upon the uncircumcised? We say that faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.

–Romans 4:5-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture